University News

Art Gallery at Western New England University to Celebrate Black History Month

Published: January 21, 2019 | Categories: All News
abstract drawing of face in charcoal

In celebration of Black History Month, Western New England University will present "Suicide Girl and Her Nine Sisters: Revisiting a Racist Children's Book," by Painter/Installation Artist, Imo Nse Imeh from January 27 to February 28. The gallery will host a Gallery Talk/Community Conversation on Thursday, February 7 at 4:00 p.m. in the St. Germain Campus Center, Campus Center A (second floor) followed by an artist reception from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Art Gallery (first floor). All gallery events are free and open to the public.

This series is a retelling of a children's book that was written in 1907 by Nora Case, a British author. The children's book is comprised of racist stereotypes about black people, particularly black children. The story, which unfolds as a nursery rhyme, features a cast of ten black girls, who are each eliminated one-by-one, and sometimes in horrific ways (for example, one of the black girls is burned alive while making toffee, another is eaten by a bear).

As a response to and revision of the original children's book, artist Imo Imeh's series of drawings features contemporary black girls in various states of danger, in the present-day. With each drawing, he seeks to examine the language, history, and realities of ongoing racial subjugation in America, the invisibility of young black people, and the misfortune of how we collectively decide the degree to which we ought to place value on the lives of black children.

Imo Nse Imeh is an Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Westfield State University. His area of focus is African Diaspora art and aesthetics. He lives in Agawam, MA. For information and directions to the gallery visit or call the University at 413-782-1203.